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'Water for Elephants': Can Robert Pattinson perform under the big top? [trailer]

December 16, 2010 |  5:19 pm

Robertpattinsonwfetrailer Though Robert Pattinson has slowly begun to carve out his post-"Twilight" acting career, many critics still wonder whether the young star has the acting chops to successfully move past the world of vampires. While it wasn't a flop at the box office, Pattinson's latest non-"Twilight" film, "Remember Me," barely registered with filmgoers.

But next year, it seems the actor will finally have a real chance to show audiences what he's got: he'll star opposite Uma Thurman in "Bel Ami" and with Reese Witherspoon in April's "Water for Elephants," for which a trailer was released Thursday.

Based on a bestselling historical novel released in 2006, "Elephants" centers around a veterinary school student named Jacob (Pattinson) who falls for circus performer Marlena (Witherspoon). Despite their shared affinity for the big top, the pair and their burgeoning romance are threatened by Marlena's husband (Christoph Waltz).

Neither of the romantic leads says much of anything in the trailer. Instead, it's filled with hazy, glowing shots of life in the circus: Jacob peeking in to catch a glimpse of Marlena in the center of the ring, delicately laying her svelte body across a horse; the two together, gently stroking one of animals.

We like the langorous, moody tone, though it's nearly impossible to judge from the trailer if Pattinson has any acting skills beyond that longing gaze thing. It's also mildly difficult to believe the 34-year-old Witherspoon could truly be wooed by a young man a decade her junior, but that's a conceit we think we'd be able to get over.

One definite bright spot in the trailer? Hal Holbrook, who plays an older version of Pattinson's character. [UPDATE, 7:05 PM: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated that Holbrook's character is a mentor to Pattinson's character.] We loved the 85-year-old's performance in "Into the Wild" a few years ago, and it seems his presence here will add weight to the film beyond the romance at its center.

-- Amy Kaufman

Twitter.com/AmyKinLA

Photo: "Water for Elephants" poster. Credit: 20th Century Fox.

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